The world of marketing can feel a lot like London Paddington station. As one technique arrives, another departs. Plus, there’s a lot of platforms involved. And it’s crowded. But, while everyone bustles about with their heads down trying to reach their destination as quickly as possible, it’s important to pause, look up, and consider the wider picture. Does anything look different from normal? Have there been any major marketing shifts that might have gone unnoticed amongst the hubbub?

What is product-led growth marketing?

One of the most notable developments to have an impact on marketing teams has been an increase in businesses adopting product-led growth marketing (PLG) strategies. While this concept isn’t new, its usage has gained traction in recent years and as a result, marketers have had to adapt.

PLG focuses on delivering value through the product and allowing users to experience its benefits firsthand. This approach drives customer acquisition, engagement, and retention, with its viral nature leading to organic user growth, lower customer acquisition costs, and increased customer lifetime value.

Today,  product-led strategies are being adopted across traditional organizations as they digitize their operations.

Take IR Magazine, which used data to optimize its newly digitized product and drive significant lead capture.

Click to read IR Magazine + Turtl | Case Study

Why have product-led business strategies gained significant traction in recent years?

While PLG has roots in earlier product-centric approaches, its widespread adoption and recognition as a distinct strategy can be attributed to several factors – with notable examples emerging in the 2000s and early 2010s:

Emergence of SaaS

The rise of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud-based solutions has provided a technological infrastructure that supports PLG strategies. These platforms enable easy distribution, seamless upgrades and integration with other tools, making it easier to adopt PLG approaches.  Salesforce (founded in 1999) and Dropbox (founded in 2007) recognized the potential of offering free trials and self-service onboarding to drive adoption and expand their customer base. Their success stories inspired other companies to adopt similar approaches.

Freemium model

This model offers a basic product for free with the option to upgrade to a paid version for additional features or functionality and gained prominence during the 2000s. This approach was successfully implemented by companies including Skype, Evernote and Slack, who used free offerings to attract users and convert them into paying customers. It’s a smart tactic used by PLG businesses to deliver proof of value.

Changing customer preferences

Customer expectations and preferences shifted towards seamless, self-service experiences during the rise of digital. Mobile apps, online marketplaces and digital platforms made it easier for users to explore, try and adopt new products independently. Companies recognized the need to create intuitive, user-friendly products that could stand on their own merits.

Viral growth and network effects

PLG strategies often capitalize on viral growth and network effects. Products that can be easily shared or that invite collaboration can quickly expand user bases. This approach gained attention with the success of platforms such as Facebook, X (was Twitter) and LinkedIn, which achieved massive user adoption through word-of-mouth and network effects.

While product-led strategies have been around in various forms for some time, the specific term “product-led growth” and its popularization can be attributed to the works of industry leaders like Wes Bush (author of Product-Led Growth: How to Build a Product That Sells Itself) and Blake Bartlett (partner at OpenView Venture Partners).

What does this mean for marketers?

PLG shifts the focus from traditional marketing channels to delivering a remarkable product experience. Marketers use the product as their own sales and marketing tool by allowing users to experience its value first-hand. Rather than traditionally telling users about features, it’s about showing them the value.

Savvy buyers want more than pretty pictures and catchy slogans – they want hard proof and the ability to experience the product for themselves. Product-led growth marketing efforts are closely aligned with the user journey, with marketing teams using data to drive user acquisition, adoption and expansion. A better understanding of data allows you to create lead magnets that attract higher-quality leads for finely tuned acquisition strategies.

Some examples of product-led growth marketing tactics include:

User-centric marketing

Marketing efforts are directed toward educating users about the product’s value proposition, showcasing its features and benefits and facilitating product adoption. Content is specifically designed to reach the right audience, at the right time.

Product-led content marketing

Marketers create content that focuses on solving customer pain points, providing value and highlighting the product’s capabilities. This content is usually educational, informative and aligned with the user’s journey, helping users understand the product’s value and use cases.

Product-led onboarding

PLG emphasizes seamless and intuitive onboarding experiences. Marketing teams work closely with product teams to develop onboarding processes that are user-friendly and guide users toward realizing the product’s value quickly. Marketing might create onboarding materials, tutorials, videos and interactive guides to facilitate a smooth user journey.

Here’s a great example of product–led onboarding by Unit4.

The tech firm was able to painlessly and rapidly onboard new customers. And by scaling personalized content in Turtl, they gained results so good, they duplicated the program for existing customers.

Click to read Unit4 + Turtl | Case Study

Data-led marketing

PLG relies on data to inform marketing decisions and strategies. Marketers analyze user behavior and content engagement metrics to identify opportunities for improving the product experience and driving growth. They harness user data to personalize marketing communications, provide targeted messaging and trigger relevant in-product notifications.

User-driven acquisition

Users are encouraged to invite others to join and experience the product, often in exchange for incentives or rewards. This user-driven referral marketing can generate organic growth, increase brand awareness and drive new customer acquisition.

Customer success and expansion

PLG strategies often aim to convert free users into paying customers and drive expansion within existing accounts. Marketing teams collaborate with customer success teams to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities. They develop targeted marketing campaigns, upsell offers and product upgrade notifications to encourage customers to explore additional features or move to higher-tier plans.

Adoption of growth hacking

PLG strategies often incorporate growth hacking techniques, which involve rapid experimentation and iterative improvements to achieve scalable growth. Marketing teams adopt growth hacking principles such as A/B testing, rapid deployment of experiments, and data-led decision-making to optimize the product experience and drive user acquisition.

What does a product-led content strategy involve exactly?

Product-led content marketing combines the power of content marketing with a focus on the product experience and, when done right, it can supercharge inbound lead generation.

The best way to understand how it works is by picturing a spider diagram. The center is the product, with pieces of different content types branching off from it. Every piece of content is unique but connected to the product. By creating different forms of connected content, marketers provide users with a variety of channels and touchpoints in which to learn about – and engage with – the product.

By weaving the value of the product and its use cases into the narrative of the content, marketers can effectively educate, raise awareness and drive user adoption.

Here are some key aspects of a product-led content strategy:

Build a central brand narrative

This will allow you to tell the same story across all content formats and channels. This enables you to accurately show your company’s value before your product’s value, and it helps build trust. Right now, brand storytelling for B2B has become more important than ever before.

If you’d like to know more about brand storytelling, we have a pretty cool guide.

Click to read Unraveling the power of stories with Nick Mason | Turtl

Keep it simple

While not easy to do when you have a lot to say, this is crucial to ensuring your audience understands the message. Don’t overcomplicate your narrative – keep things clear and concise.

Be consistent

While each piece of the content puzzle needs to fit together, it must make sense when standalone. Marketing leaders should build a cohesive content marketing strategy that follows business goals while teams can work on content operations, processes and creating modular content. The more consistent and aligned your content is, the higher the chance of converting users into paying customers.

Educate and inform

Product-led content marketing focuses on creating content that educates and informs users about the product’s value, features and benefits. The content aims to address user pain points, offer solutions and highlight how the product can solve specific problems or improve their lives.

Align with the user journey

Content is strategically aligned with the different stages of the user journey. Content is designed to meet users’ needs at each stage and guide them through the product experience. This alignment ensures that the content is relevant, timely and supports users in realizing the full potential of the product.

Demonstrate product capabilities

Content marketing is used to showcase the product’s capabilities and unique selling points. This can be achieved through blog articles, tutorials, case studies, videos and other content formats that demonstrate how to use the product effectively. By showcasing the product’s value and functionality, content helps users understand the possibilities and encourages them to explore further.

User-centric approach

(Mentioned before, but a key focus within a product-led content marketing strategy!) This approach is all about focusing on delivering value and addressing user needs rather than being solely promotional. It aims to build trust and credibility by providing useful and actionable insights. By placing the user’s interests at the forefront, the content becomes a valuable resource that users seek out and engage with. Think quality over quantity.

Integrate with the product experience

Product-led content marketing is seamlessly integrated with the product experience. It may involve in-app guides, tooltips, knowledge bases or interactive tutorials that provide users with information and assistance while using the product. The content is designed to complement and enhance the user experience, making it easier for users to understand and use the product’s features.

Crunch the data and optimize

Similar to other PLG strategies, product-led content marketing relies on data to inform decision-making and optimization efforts. Marketers analyze user behavior, engagement metrics and content performance to identify opportunities for improvement. This data-fueled approach helps refine the content strategy, create more personalized content experiences and maximize the impact of the content on user adoption and growth.

One thing that will never change in marketing is the connection between audience pain points and value. The more you understand your audience, the better product you can build and the better content you can use to build affinity and educate that audience.

What happens if you have more than one product to promote? 

Each product should have its own content strategy pillar in place (its own spider diagram!). While some products might have different uses or target audiences, all content pillars should support the overarching brand narrative.

Are there any new forms of content that can be used for better product-led content marketing results?

There are always new trains arriving at the station! However, while product-led content is about proving the value of the product, the term ‘value’ can feel overused in the marketing world (and it also feels a bit vague!). In our opinion, it’s more about creating better content via the most engaging formats and channels that all connect to promote the benefits of the central product. This then creates a natural pathway towards product sign-ups, creates engaged readers who are more likely to buy, and positions your company as a trustworthy thought leader.

Thankfully, a lot of new content forms are centered around quality and engagement, such as:

Immersive content

Enabling users to actively engage with content and create more memorable and impactful experiences. As technology continues to advance, immersive content is expected to become more accessible, realistic, and integrated into our everyday lives such as polls, quizzes, virtual, augmented and mixed reality, as well as 360-degree video.

Content at scale

Producing high volumes of high-quality – and even personalized content – quickly and efficiently.

Personalized content

Product-led content can be personalized by tailoring it to the specific needs, preferences and behaviors of individual users or target segments. Personalization enhances the user experience, increases engagement and improves the effectiveness of product-led growth marketing strategies.

We used Turtl data to uncover how personalization works in the world of B2B and unearthed some surprising statistics.

Click to read The data behind personalization | Turtl Labs + Curious Reader

By providing an engaging web of eye-catching content experiences that are connected to the product, marketers can encourage better results. No more vanilla tactics that blend into the background. Be bold while focusing on quality content that guides the reader toward your goal of activation.

Ryan Gould, COO and EVP at Elevation Marketing was kind enough to share content experiences that boost product-led bottom-of-funnel conversions.

Are product-led, marketing-led, and go-to-market strategies connected?

Yes! They’re interconnected and often work in tandem to drive business success. While they have distinct focuses and approaches, they are interdependent and influence each other in the following ways:

As discussed, product-led strategies prioritize the product with the aim of delivering a useful and intuitive product experience that encourages users to explore, adopt and advocate for the product. Product-led growth marketing strategies heavily influence the marketing and go-to-market approaches by shaping how the product is positioned, communicated and distributed to target customers.

Marketing-led strategies center around traditional marketing activities, such as advertising, promotions, branding and lead generation. They focus on raising awareness, generating demand and driving customer acquisition through various marketing channels and tactics. Marketing-led strategies complement product-led approaches by creating awareness, showcasing the product’s value proposition and generating interest in the target market. The marketing efforts support the product-led strategy by attracting users and guiding them towards adopting and experiencing the product.

Go-to-market strategies encompass the overall approach and tactics for bringing a product or service to market effectively. This includes marketing, sales, distribution, pricing and customer acquisition strategies. Go-to-market strategies consider the target market, customer segments, competitive landscape and channels for reaching and engaging with customers. Product-led and marketing-led strategies play a crucial role in shaping the go-to-market approach. A go-to-market strategy incorporates the principles and execution plans of both product-led and marketing-led strategies to ensure a cohesive and effective approach to reaching customers and driving growth.

As you can see, all three are interrelated and work together to achieve business goals:

  • Product-led strategies focus on delivering a valuable product experience.
  • Marketing-led strategies create awareness and generate demand.
  • Go-to-market strategies encompass the overall approach for successfully bringing the product to market.

When aligned and executed cohesively, these strategies maximize the impact and success of a product or service in the marketplace.

Agility is everything

The above is one example of how marketers are remaining agile as advancements in technology, changing consumer behavior, evolving market dynamics and emerging opportunities, fuel new business strategies.

Agility is everything – and to remain agile, it’s crucial to pause, look up, and take stock. What’s changed? Or what might be about to change? Crunch the numbers, listen to customer feedback, track trends, revisit your audience… Can you stay ahead of competitors by preempting an upcoming shift in audience behavior, or become an early adopter of new content marketing techniques that are driving results?

Grab a marmalade sandwich and kick back.

You’re about to read about the time Redstor switched out PDFs for Turtl. Not only did they increase MQLs by 567% they also happened to scale ABM campaigns into the hundreds.

Click to read Redstor + Turtl | Case Study

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